Brighton’s pro-Palestine activists score win against arms giant

Activists in Brighton have spent months protesting an arms company producing parts for F-35 jets which are exported to Israel [Rabeea Eid/Al-Araby Al-Jadeed]

Pro-Palestine activists in Brighton and Hove on Wednesday celebrated the closure of an arms factory in the southern English city, which they accused of playing a role in Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza.

Crowds celebrated outside the town hall after Brighton and Hove City councillors unanimously rejected the application submitted by weapons manufacturer L3 Harris for a permanent licence for its factory extension, on the grounds of risks to “community cohesion“.

The facility was given a temporary licence in 2018 to operate in the city, but activists pointed out they had been operating without a licence since last September.

In response to Israel’s devastating war on Gaza, which is entering its eighth month and has led to at least 36,586 Palestinians killed, activists in the UK have launched campaigns and organised factory blockades to highlight the complicity of arms firms operating in the country in ‘enabling’ Israel’s war machine.

Lucy, an activist in the “Stop L3 Harris” campaign, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister edition that the “decision is a historic victory, and sends the message that people in Brighton and Hove will not be complicit in genocide”.

The vote took place on Wednesday afternoon at Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee meeting, after local and expert testimonies were presented regarding the L3 Harris application for a permanent license for the facility.

Numerous campaign groups have been protesting against the L3 Harris facility for months, including Brighton Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Brighton Against the Arms Trade, and Workers for a Free Palestine (WFP), who staged a protest at the site in December, accusing the factory of manufacturing components used by the Israeli military.

L3 Harris is ranked the 12th largest arms firm in the world and says it is the world’s biggest manufacturer of precision weapons, as well as special parts for F-35 fighter jets, which are exported to the Israeli military. F-35s have been employed extensively in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

During the council hearing prior to the vote, councillors listened to the testimony of a local Jewish Palestinian activist Herbie, who said the factory was visible from her kitchen.

“Living across the road from a factory that’s profiting from the killing of innocent civilians in Gaza has contributed to my declining mental health over the last eight months,” she said.

The experience had led her to take anti-depressants due to feelings of “powerless and hopeless”.

“Please, close the factory,” she ended her statement.

While activists are celebrating the step taken by the council, “more needs to be done to close L3 Harris in our city for good, and to end the UK’s wider support for the massacre of Palestinian civilians by Israel,” Lucy, another activist from the Stop L3Harris Campaign, said.

This article is based on an article which appeared in our Arabic edition by Rabeea Eid on 5 June 2024. To read the original article click here.

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